How the Federal Housing Administration Affects Homeownership

Type Working Paper
Title How the Federal Housing Administration Affects Homeownership
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2002
In this paper, I attempt to determine how the Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
affects homeownership. The FHA insures the full value of selected loans made by
private lenders. I use changes in FHA underwriting criteria over time and the differential
effects of these criteria across metropolitan areas to study the effects of the FHA on
homeownership. To do this, I simulate the difference in the fraction of homes in his
metropolitan area that a prospective homeowner could afford with FHA and conventional
criteria, and see how the difference in affordability affects homeownership. I find that
more generous FHA underwriting criteria increase homeownership. In the period from
1970 to 1990, FHA increased homeownership by an average of about 0.6 percentage
points, and increased homeownership by 1.57 percentage points for those at the 90th
percentile of effects of FHA on house purchase affordability. FHA also had greater
effects on the homeownership of certain groups, especially Blacks and married couples
with children.

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